The leftists who disrupt town halls and jam politicians’ telephone lines are engaging in childish street theater
March 21, 2017 12:00 AM
By Val DiGiorgio
Unable to win at the ballot box, an inconsolable American left has written a new chapter in perversity, purposely jamming telephone lines then demanding to know why their calls don’t go through.
Such antics might be amusing but for the fact that while complaining loudly about being heard, they are drowning out the voices of real constituents. We’re talking about the everyday citizens who need real help with Social Security, veteran benefits, assistance for their families and a range of real-life services House and Senate members provide on a daily basis — at least when their phones are working.
Right now, some members of Congress are unable to hold regular town hall meetings because protesters salted throughout the room are operating from a handbook written by Democratic operatives on obstruction. Called “Indivisible,” the guide leaves zero doubt about its mission.
Protesters are urged to show up, distribute a set of loaded questions, scatter themselves throughout the audience and go after their target — in this case, Sen. Pat Toomey and our Republican congressmen.
“Other group members around the room should amplify, by either booing the MoC (Member of Congress) or applauding you,” the handbook advises.
Other instructions: Don’t give up the microphone. If a congressional staffer tries to take it, create a scene. Make sure someone is recording the town hall. And, of course, call the media. After all, boisterous confrontations make good stories and even better television.
In Breaux Bridge, La., Indivisible organizer James Proctor was recorded while planning to disrupt a town hall.
“Game plan No. 1 is to fill as many seats as we can, right? If it’s all of us in there and the poor people of Breaux Bridge are sitting behind us, well then tough luck for them,” he said. Other activists laughed. After all, this is about politically disabling Republicans, not about some widow trying to get Social Security.
Understandably, elected officials have come to realize that a town hall upended by a howling mob isn’t worth having until real constituents with real concerns can be heard. The guide has a solution for that: Crash other events at which the member might appear.
Because these are often private events, the guide tells protesters to “think creatively.” In this case, “Be prepared to interrupt.”
“Since you won’t get the mic at an event like this, you have to attract attention to yourself and your message,” the reader is advised. Choose a simple message and “coordinate with each other to chant this message during any public remarks your MoC makes.”
In short, shout them down.
These orchestrated groups are making public appearances impossible for their targets, and then they’re giving press conferences about the lack of public appearances.
This was precisely the tactic used by a Pittsburgh group last month when it forced the cancellation of a discussion by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, about his landmark mental health reform legislation at Duquesne University.
Mr. Murphy’s bill spent years in the making, and included sometimes heart-rending hearings at which families spoke of loss and struggle. They deserved better than the cheap theatrics protesters intended for political gain.
By now, it’s reasonable to ask precisely what these protesters want. The Indivisible movement basically is focused on rerunning the 2016 election.
That’s why we see childish street theater such as “Tuesdays with Toomey,” and “Mondays with Murphy.” Possibly the lack of a day beginning with “R” prevented a regular session outside the offices of U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, but the protesters did hold a “Rothfus town hall” to which they neglected to invite him before accusing him of failing to show.
They want President Donald Trump’s agenda stopped at every turn and are determined to punish any member of his party who will not try to undermine the constitutionally elected leader of our nation. It’s not healthy for democracy because democracy only works when leaders listen, and no leader can hear the people when a handful of them is intent on creating a sonic wall through which reason cannot pass.
Eventually news editors will read the Indivisible guide and realize they’re being played for chumps, and coverage will evaporate. Then, regular citizens with real needs and without cynical agendas will no longer be held hostage to a handful of worn-out leftists who can’t tell the difference between a dialogue and a tantrum.
Val DiGiorgio is chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania (Twitter: @vdigiorgio67).
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.